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OPINION: Sour grapes

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I know of a number of people; sharp, intelligent, witty and many of them with diplomas, degrees and decades of work experience – who are made to feel like idiots on almost a daily basis.

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IT SERVES me right. I had promised myself that I would not set foot into a particular store in our small town and the moment I broke the promise to myself I ended up kicking myself – why did I not listen to myself?

I went into the store looking for a simple item and asked the shop assistant, “Hi, I need an ‘A’ to ‘B’ connector, please.”

He handed a small package to me. “Is that what you are looking for, sir,” he asked.

It was exactly what I needed. I was relieved that I did not need to run around any longer. But my relief was short-lived.

The other assistant slid over – I could swear that he was standing on a skateboard on the other side of the counter.

“Excuse me sir … What exactly are you looking for?”

I explained where I would be using the item I was already holding in my hand, and for what purpose, but something I had said had obviously disrupted his corner of the multiverse.

“Then you have to say that you are looking for a ‘B’ to ‘A’ connector,” he said, gently chastising me and sliding back to his original position on his hidden skateboard.

I had been schooled. And the joy and relief I had felt only a few moments earlier was now soured by this cocky shop assistant with his redundant information.

Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but I did not appreciate this young person trying to make me feel like a fool, due to a simple slip of my tongue. I simply misspoke when I spoke to his colleague – remember that I never addressed him in the first place.

If you think that my anger, frustration and all this old-man venting is unnecessary, I agree with you. I just wanted you as the reader to get into the frame of mind of a frustrated old fogey that’s been made to feel like a fool. Remember, feelings can lie.

To illustrate my point, consider the fact that I know of a number of people; sharp, intelligent, witty and many of them with diplomas, degrees and decades of work experience – who are made to feel like idiots on almost a daily basis.

As evidence, I direct your attention to the humble smartphone.

Some youth are amused at the old folk who, when trying to answer their phones with the required swipe, look like they are trying to strike a match. They giggle because the old fogeys don’t know how to open a link on a text message, fill in an online form, open a voice-note, hang up after a call or carry out the simplest action.

But smartphones are instruments of trauma! How can someone who spent most of their lives having face-to-face conversations and who used to correspond by writing letters on paper be expected to – within a few years – learn about clicking links, using search engines, the dangers of spam, and the threats of hackers and identity thieves?

You cannot be sure – even if you are tech-savvy – that clicking on a link won’t give an opportunistic hacker the opportunity to skim your personal information and do who knows what with it. It’s a scary possibility.

The advice I have for those who are unsure about hacking, cyber security or suspicious links is this – before you click, before you respond, before you take any action, find someone you trust and ask for help.

Sadly, I personally know someone who went to a cellphone store in our city to ask the staff to help him with something pretty simple. As he left the store, he noticed that the assistants in the store were rolling their eyes, motioning in his direction and giggling. That’s just rude!

I worry when those who have grown up with this type of technology in their hands from infancy – quite literally – have no time to waste explaining such “obvious basics” to what they possibly consider to be “old idiots”. They even refer to such folk as the BBT crowd – Born Before Technology.

Some young folk should be reminded that it was an older person who taught them how to eat with a spoon, how to brush their own teeth, how to make “poopies” like a big boy and how to tie their shoelaces. Also, I can only hope that the older folk taught them some manners – how to respect and honour those who were a bit older.

These youth who consider themselves so wise and superior should remember a quote I read somewhere a while back: “It’s true, some wine improves with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.”